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CBS12News Investigates: Hackers targeting our election process

CBS12News Investigates: Hackers targeting our election process (WPEC)

From misinformation on social media to hackers targeting election offices, it seems our elections are under attack.

The supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County told CBS12 News that hackers are trying to gain access to her computers, but so far, she said they haven't gotten in.

"If something happens to our system, they're unable to tell us what it is," said Susan Bucher, Supervisor of Elections on Palm Beach County.

Bucher wants access to classified information from the FBI in the name of election security.

Dr. Elias Bou-Harb is the director of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Lab at Florida Atlantic University.

It's designed to detect exploitations as soon as they are encountered.

"There is no IT asset in the entire world, whether it's consumer level or critical infrastructure, that is not threatened by attack," he said.

Bou-Harb said without a doubt, elections attract cyber threats.

"Everything that goes into the information technology environment is under attack," he said.

"No security system is perfect. There's always vulnerabilities. There's always holes."

Legislation pending could possibly give Bucher classified access.

She said the county beefed-up security adding filters and layers after the 2016 election.

But, that doesn't stop the attempts, and there is no guarantee it will always work.

"If someone got into a data system and changed one number on your address or deleted your record then that could create havoc at our voting locations," she said.

Bucher said the county's voting system is not connected to the internet.

She recently showed CBS12News an optical scanner used to read ballots.

"When the polls close, we shut off the machine, we pull the cartridge and its delivered to one of the 17 secure county facilities where it's read and the data is transferred to the server in Riviera Beach," she said.

"Transferring the data to a centralized server is problematic because if attackers know about this and know information is stored on one central server they will focus their attacks on that server," Bou-Harb said.

"Anything that's IT related is vulnerable."

"I'm very confident our system has been looked at. They've knocked at the door and we've been locked," Bucher said.

Bucher also said she's confident the system is safe and told us that she's in regular contact with the FBI.

The county deployed its current election equipment in 2007 and new voting equipment will be deployed in 2020 for the cost of $11-million.

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